Applied Cognitive Psychology

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The impact of seductive details and signaling on analogical transfer

Summary

This study tests if the seductive details effect on transfer is mitigated by signaling. Preservice teachers (N = 73) were randomly assigned on the basis of two factors, signaling and seductive details. After learning about principles of effective feedback, participants reflected on a narrative text case illustrating the instructional material that either contained or did not contain signals (highlighting key base text) and/or seductive details (interesting but extraneous details). Whereas no group differences for signaling, or signaling by seductive details interaction were found, a significant main effect for seductive details on transfer was found, Cohen's d = 0.51. These results suggest seductive details embedded in narrative cases negatively impact analogical transfer, and the effect is not mitigated by the inclusion of signaling. This lends support to the diversion hypothesis of seductive details, which suggests that seductive details damage learning by preventing meaningful encoding in appropriate schema.

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